The Future of Water

It’s National Water Week and the theme is ‘Water for Me, Water for All‘. Earlier this month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their landmark report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which warned the world has just 12 years to limit global warming in order to avoid extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. So now feels like as good a time as ever to talk about the future.

What’s IS the world going to look like in 2050? or in 2100? And what role will water resources play in it all?

Could Costner’s monumental flop of a film ‘Waterworld’ potentially be a realistic vision of the future?

Here in Australia it’s already clear that growing city populations and the drying climate have impacted the water storage levels. And in Perth, meeting our water supply demand by storing rainwater in dams is a distant memory. Clean drinking water in Perth is now sourced almost entirely from groundwater (~ 46%) and desalination (~45%) with less than 7% attributed to rainfall. Worryingly, almost half of people in WA don’t know where their drinking water comes from! If recent events in Cape Town teach us anything it’s that public awareness of clean water supplies is a crucial element of resource sustainability.

As water-related problems get more complicated we need to get smarter – the water industry needs digital disruption; machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are combining to disrupt the way water businesses operate

As time goes by water is likely to play a larger role in political tension as well; both on a national and international scale. Researchers from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) analysed past “hydro-political interactions” (instances of conflict and cooperation over water resources) in international river basins to identify where conflict is likely to emerge around the world.


Global distribution of the current likelihood of hydro-political issues among the main transboundary basins (non-transboundary areas shaded) – Farinosi et al. 2018

So in the spirit of National Water Week, we here at Urbaqua encourage you to take a moment to think about the role that water currently plays in your life, how important clean water resources are to the way we live, and what you can do at an individual level to help relieve the enormous pressures that we’re collectively facing on sustainable clean water.